Living with your Hovawart puppy

“My last dog was much easier than this terror”. How many times have we heard someone sobbing over their dog being difficult, problematic and badly behaved! Where do the bad dogs come from? I can tell you this, very rarely are very badly behaved Hovawarts born; it’s more a case of what you do with them from day 1.

Every growing puppy has “critical phases” or periods, when they develop (or not) certain responses to particular situations or environment. For the first 3 weeks of their life, the HOVIE puppy’s needs are basic and physical; food, warmth, rest and toilet. It has a simple repertoire of reflex and instinctive behaviour that helps them to satisfy those needs.

From the time they can hear and see, start to explore and interact with each other, until they are 12 to 14 weeks old, the puppies’ physical and social environment can seriously affect their later personality. It is crucial that from the day you take a Hovawart home, what you DO with it and FOR it, up to it being 5 or 6 months old, is the most crucial time for both you and your new (soon to be very large) friend. This is the early socialisation period which involves interaction with litter–mates, their mother, people and environment. Learning ability, hyperactivity and fearfulness etc, are highly dependant on such things as the sound of vacuum cleaners, washing machines, traffic, postmen, being taken out in cars, taken to puppy training etc.

Later in life, your puppy’s personality continues to mature in a similar but a slower rate. By the age of about 12 months your HOVIE pups’ behaviour is mostly formed, preferences sorted and survival rules have been established. However, be aware that some Hovawarts never grow up and can believe they are puppies until they are in fact veterans. They are stubborn and they think too much and I for one have seen mine appear to actually laugh at me when asked to do a certain task e.g., you threw it, so you fetch it etc etc.

What do we know about our Hovawarts’ needs? How do we motivate them? What do we train them to be? We either provide developing dogs with the necessary experience in order to shape certain behaviour or we isolate and ignore many of their needs until unacceptable behavioural patterns are formed. These lovely dogs can grow into boisterous and over–powering bullies, they can develop destructive behaviour and awful habits. They can become aggressive and noisy. But it’s not just Hovawarts that need good training and routine. Did you know that 99 % of all bad behaviour in dogs is our fault! Believe it or not! What can we do to deal with their problem(s)? Do we get rid of the dog: send it to a rescue centre, let the dog get lost or killed on a road or have them put down? Yes, we kill thousands of innocents (not by the consequences of their acts) dogs, whose only faults are having us as their managers, walkers, feeders and entertainers; and our failure to deal with problems until it is far too late.

What we must do is simple. Teach our HOVIE puppies good manners, train them to respond to our commands and allow them to be the clown they can be whilst ensuring they enjoy and want to stay and work with us. Using a treat or lure is OK and not cheating as I have sometimes been told. Teach them to play with the right toys and also with us; find games that challenge their intelligence and sense of humour. Bond with the puppy and introduce it to other people and dogs in a sensible controlled way. Acquaint and familiarise the HOVIE puppy with the big wide-open world. Socialise your puppy.

Train yourself to train your dog and you won’t regret it. A well trained and loved Hovawart is a joy to own and when you take the time and effort to do this you also realize how addictive they can become!!

If you are looking for a family dog who, given the proper environment, will love and look after you, then the Hovawart may be what you are seeking.

What you will get is a lunatic who will decorate you and your home with loose hair and wet feet. He loves bad weather and revels in wind, rain and mud - and expects you to do the same!

A Hovie enjoys life and is ready to join in all your activities. Gardening - great! His powerful limbs enable him to excavate large craters in the minimum amount of time. Jogging - right up his street (but would prefer a field). His deep chest provides ample room for a powerful set of heart and lungs - you will give up before he does. A spot of decorating - your baby is capable of stripping off wallpaper, reorganizing plastic water pipes and creating designer holes in the plaster. Does your furniture need a more antique appearance? Leave your young Hovie alone too long and he will age your chair legs in no time.

A Hovie can scream in agony at the threat of something that might hurt him but ignore a really serious injury. They undergo a teenage stage, when they forget any manners and commands that they may have learnt and behave in a totally boorish manner, doing only what they want and sulking if forced to conform. This leads on to the famous Hovie sulk. This can last for minutes, hours or even days - especially if you laugh at them! (A Hovie prefers you to laugh with him, not at him.)

Many of them are inveterate thieves which, allied to their height and dexterity of foreleg, means that goodies have to be shut in cupboards or placed on very high shelves.

They are extremely mouth orientated, and possess a great desire to taste things - anything from dead bodies to disinfectant. If your playmates try to take away your prize - gulp - down it goes in one gigantic swallow. They like to carry around presents and love the feel of cloth in their mouths. They will try to carry your coat for you even if you are still inside it! They show their affection by nibbling you - fine in the winter when you wear plenty of clothes, but painful on your bare skin!

If you think you can cope with this, and more (for the Hovawart is nothing if not inventive) then you are in the right place and I would love to hear from you.

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